Why International Labelling Standards Would Benefit Canadian Companies Expanding Globally

Retail industry news delivered directly to you. Subscribe to Retail-Insider.

As Canadian brands and retailers become increasingly international, their products are being purchased by those who speak different languages. Besides potential confusion and mistranslation, individual country-by-country labelling standards are costing those in the industry who do business internationally, according to David Ceausu, President of leading Canadian based global apparel labelling company, Accent Labels
Mr. Ceausu noted that if a label reads differently in one country versus another, moving that product to another region could become complicated. Removing the label and replacing it with another takes time and money, not to mention that it could damage the product. Mr. Ceausu explained how international labelling standards and  utilizing symbols instead of words, could eliminate confusion and costs associated with multi-lingual labelling. A hybrid solution could also be acceptable, he said, utilizing localized labelling standards with an international label with easy-to-understand symbols. 

For example, if a Canadian company wanted to sell its wares internationally and a particular style didn’t sell in one country, moving it to another would require replacing labels and tags marked in the local language. Standardized labelling would allow the company to more easily move merchandise internationally, without the inconvenience of relabelling. This applies more to brick-and-mortar retailing,though standardization would also benefit e-commerce, according to Mr. Ceausu,to create consistency. 
Furthermore, Mr. Ceausu noted that standardized labelling could potentially eliminate confusion surrounding certain fabrics and other quality indicators. Although Canada’s Textile Labelling Act and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission may be of benefit to Canadians and Americans, countries such as India currently lack similar standardizing regulations. Standardized international labelling would provide consumers with insight into the fabric and care instructions, without the need for translation or for multiple/replacement tagging.

A recent study noted considerable differences among labelling standards, providing suggestions on how to streamline labelling standards for better international product movement. The study provided several potential solutions to try to create some uniformity, including ample use of percentages where appropriate, ASTM and ISO care symbols when possible, and even multiple tags for different country groups. The same study determined that ease of understanding and uniformity would be optimal and where possible, uniform labelling standards should be encouraged.  

Vancouver-based lawyer Ritchie Po noted that there could even be legal implications if mistranslation leads to false advertising or worse, someone is injured as a result of mislabelling. At the very least, mistranslation can lead to embarrassing situations — for example, translating ‘Made in Turkey’ into French could become humorous, if the translation results in the country being identified as a bird (dinde) as opposed to using its correct translation (Turquie). In the world of product labelling, however, humour and professionalism are often mutually exclusive.

As Canadian companies continue to move products internationally, at least partially standardized labelling would be of benefit. Mr. Ceausu explained that his company, Accent Labels, will adhere to any new industry practices that may involve new consistency standards.


Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

More From The Author

Inside the New KITH Store on Yorkville Avenue in Toronto [Photos]

The stunning storefront took months to build, features Kith Treats and a restaurant concept from New York City, and could be a game changer for the Bloor-Yorkville area. 

Browns Shoes to Return to Toronto’s Bloor Street with New Storefront

The Canadian footwear retailer had a presence in the area for decades until recently, and now it returns in a space that is steps from Holt Renfrew.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

No posts to display

Follow us


all-time Popular